Slivovitz for the Uninitiated
I've been doing some reading about Slivovitz lately (spurred by a friend's suggestion) and am interested in trying it. I've read that it is very high proof and often "firery" or "bitter" and a bit overpowering.
For a newbie, which brand of Slivovitz do you Slivovitz drinkers suggest? Are there any brands that are a bit fruiter...or heaven forbid....even a bit sweeter?
I just returned from Romania, and in addition to both home made and commercial tuica, I had the pleasure of trying palinca and horinca, which are stronger than the home made tuica. I brough back a bottle of horinca, it is 100 proof and tastes very similar to palinca (from plums), though the label says it is made from apples. It has no apple flavor that I can detect, so I'm not sure if that's accurate. At any rate, I like all three and would recommend them to anyone who likes Slivovitz.
For what it's worth, when you're in Hungary and you want the good stuff, you order kosher slivovitz. Whether it's strictly kosher or not I'm not sure, but it does have a bit more refinement than the run-of-the-(gin)-mill stuff. I've bought it there to bring home
I actually like slivovitz myself - but then, I also drank grappa 30 years ago, before it got all frou-frou.
My wife, who as a general rule is obsessed with all things Balkan, describes slivovitz as "fruit-based lighter fluid." Having sampled it a few times myself, I tend to agree. However, those who are really into this sort of thing tend to find that a feature, not a bug, so I'm not sure you're going to find a proper slivovitz (as opposed to Mirabelle, etc.) that won't blow off the back of your skull. That's just what this stuff does!
Firery yes, but so often is grappa. I love both. Think of slivovitz as plummy grappa. I agree that Mirabelle eau de vie is similar.
If you like this type of thing there is a whole world of clear grappas, eau de vie, kirsch, etc that are fairly similar. There are Portugese (aguardente) Spanish (Orujo) Italian, and eastern european versions.
Grappa and the like are made from Pomace (leftovers after wine making) and the fruit brandies can be made from just about anything.
There are even an increasing number of US made versions as well. Most best drunk neat like a cognac.
Usually pretty raw stuff to be tossed back in a hurry. I've had the triple-distilled, homemade slivovitz in eastern Europe though, and it was smooth and lovely. I posted a question similar to yours some months ago...and CHer's have suggested Mirabelle eau-de-vie as a smooth alternative, at about $35 a bottle (in my home market). Haven't bought it yet, but there you go.
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